Razorbacks take aim at No. 13 Auburn
The Razorbacks hit the road for the second week in a row to take yet another ranked opponent, this time No. 13 Auburn. After sending some shock waves through the SEC with their competence and hard-nosed defense on Saturday against Mississippi State, Arkansas fans, coaches and players are eager to see if they can conjure up another upset.
The Tigers, now offensively coordinated by two-season Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, are 1-1 on the season with a win over No. 23 Kentucky and a loss to No. 4 Georgia.
Auburn was ranked as high as No. 8 heading into the season, led by SEC freshman of the year, quarterback Bo Nix, but they've slipped to 13 after uninspired offensive play against the Bulldogs.
Georgia held Auburn to two field goals on Saturday, four fewer points than Arkansas scored against Georgia just a week prior. Nix held the SEC streak for most pass attempts without an interception (251) but that was ended by the Bulldogs Saturday. He threw for 21 of 40, 177 yards and no scores. He also ran the ball 11 times for a net gain of 8 yards. The Georgia defense got home three times and added three more tackles for loss as well.
They like to run a balanced pass-run attack but, like for Arkansas, the Georgia defense snuffed out any attempt at a run game for the Tigers last week. Freshman running back Tank Bigsby led the team in both rushing yards (31) and receiving yards (68) on Saturday. He'll likely have to step up again with junior speedster Shaun Shivers banged up.
Gus Malzahn's leading receivers this season, both former 4-stars, Anthony Schwartz and Seth Williams would be the go-to targets against Arkansas but Williams is questionable to play. As for Schwartz, the Hog defenders think they can handle him.
"Bo Nix is going to have to pick other receivers to throw the ball to because I know for a fact my defense is going to hold him to that," safety Joe Foucha said Tuesday. "1 and 18 are not going to have the ball in their hands most of the time. Like, he's going to have to throw it somewhere else. That's all I got to say about that."
Likely to get major reps this week are two freshmen wide receivers, Kobe Hudson, former Rivals No. 119 in the nation, and Ze'Vian Capers, the Razorbacks first commit in the 2020 class who changed his mind in June before his senior season.
After losing almost the entire offensive line from 2019, the Tigers are working with a patchwork group. Two current starters on the left side of the line were previously defensive linemen while the two on the right side have very few snaps under their belt at the SEC level. Their run blocking grade, per PFF, ranks second to last in the SEC and their pass blocking ranks 11th.
Defensively, Auburn will need some guys to step up in place of injured starters. Cornerback Jaylin Simpson, who won SEC freshman of the week after the win over Kentucky, is questionable for Saturday, while linebacker K.J. Britt, a captain for the Tigers, is likely out for more than a game. Britt led the team in tackles against Kentucky, then had 12 against Georgia.
Auburn's defense ranks 11 spots behind Arkansas in total defense, giving up 413 yards per game so far. They haven't allowed that to result in a ton of scores though, averaging just 20 points allowed.
This is the 30th matchup between the two programs, Auburn holds a 17-11-1 advantage and an 8-5-1 record against Arkansas in Jordan Hare. The streak is currently at four wins for the Tigers, the longest streak held by either team in the history of this series.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. on SEC Network.